Wednesday, January 31, 2018

This year, #BellLetsTalk is personal

Every year on Bell Let's Talk Day I use the hashtag. This year, it's a little more personal for me.

If being a parent is hard, being a single parent can be harder.

One morning in early November 2017 I woke up and gave up. I didn't feel like I was being a good mom. I didn't feel like I was being a good employee. I didn't feel like I was being a good daughter, sister or friend. There weren't enough hours in the day to please everyone who depended on me - so what was the point of even trying?

The only "alone" time I have to recharge my batteries is every other weekend when my daughter is with her dad. Before, I used it to clean and pack in as much social time with my friends as would allow. I would go back into work Monday, not feeling refreshed at all from the weekend, but feeling exhausted with a long list of household chores still to do.

Self-care 101 teaches us you can't pour from an empty cup. It took two years of being a single mom, but I was officially living proof.

After melting down in both my therapist's and family doctor's office, I took five weeks off work. The thing that upset me the most was that I felt I was being a bad mom. Despite Hannah's constant "You are the best Mommy ever!" declarations, I just didn't believe her. Being her mom is my most important responsibility - I don't want to fail.

During my time off I refilled my cup. I decluttered my condo, lunched with friends, and volunteered at Hannah's school, getting to know her teachers on a first name basis. I lightened my hair, hoping if I felt pretty on the outside I would start to feel it on the inside. I worked on a schedule for Hannah and I to follow that I believed would be more manageable. I went on antidepressants. I went off antidepressants.

During this time an amazing friend also introduced me to Emily Ley. If you know me in real life, I've probably already sung her praises (both the amazing friend AND Emily Ley). I read Ley's new book, A Simplified Life. Her tactics are to simplify, unclutter and focus on things that truly matter. Her tactics work (even if I have still put off cleaning my storage unit).

Wise advice from Emily Ley's A Simplified Life

When I returned to work armed with coping mechanisms, my confidence slowly started to regrow. I bought a beautiful Emily Ley planner in which I write everything. Sometimes just dumping your to do list on to paper and getting it outside of your head can make things seem a lot more accomplishable.

I still have Hannah 90 per cent of the time, but instead of feeling overwhelmed, I'm trying to focus on the fact that in as little as five years from now she might want little to nothing to do with me. I will take my cuddles while I can, and enjoy my "blood shows" as Hannah calls them (Grey's and iZombie) after she is tucked in bed. I will spend money on the 407 if it helps me get to my kid faster after work. I will order in sushi so we can have a picnic on our living room floor and make memories. Most importantly, I will focus on what I am doing, versus on what I haven't been able to get to (yet).

Everyone knows someone who has a mental health situation - they just may have not shared it with you. Like all those fancy memes we see on Instagram, everyone is fighting their own battle you don't know about.

I didn't write this post for anyone's sympathy, I wrote this post to share my story with mental illness. Even though you can't see mental health as easily as physical health, I hope moving forward our society will increasingly treat all types of health with equal importance.

I am thankful for everything I have in life, especially my amazing friends and family. I am lucky to have employee benefits that provide access to a psychologist and prescribed drugs.

I realize there are folks out there fighting tougher battles, with less support.

Let's end the stigma. Let's make sure everyone has the support to continue fighting. Let's all use #BellLetsTalk to help.

This post is not sponsored.

© 2018 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Such a beautiful post Sarah - so important to take time for you and to feel refreshed. Spending money on things that make your life easier is so worth it. And, reach out whenever you need to talk. xo


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